In remembrance of Jan Berenstain, 26 July 1923 – 24 February 2012.
It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Jan Berenstain. Her obvious love of family and life, children and reading … all are reflected in the artwork she has created for so many books over the years.
After working with Mike and Jan Berenstain for three years as an editor for the Berenstain Bears Living Lights series, I was finally able to meet Jan face-to-face this past fall. When I met Jan I was struck almost immediately by her vitality. Though petite in stature, Jan had a spirit and a smile as big as Mama Bear’s! I was pulled into her circle just as easily as most of us Berenstain Bear fans have been pulled into the Bear family and their stories and lessons. Listening to her relate memories of the early Berenstain Bear books and the story of the Bears and their development, and then later having the opportunity to watch as she painted a current project for the Living Lights series, I remember thinking that I was watching a children’s literature icon hard at work. Blessed with a marvelous sense of humor and artistic talent, Jan has brought to life characters that have become friends, family members, and favorite teachers for many of us readers over the past 50 years.
This is how I am going to remember Jan … a big smile and a hug, with paints smudging her fingertips … thinking in that sharp mind about the next action-filled, colorful scene on the next spread of the next book …
- Mary Hassinger, Acquisitions Editor, Zonderkidz
It has been a childhood dream and an adult privilege for me to work with Jan and Mike Berenstain over the years. I remember the first birthday card sent to Jan from our team and her response, “I love this year’s signed birthday card. Thanks! I’m beginning to understand why readers enjoy getting their books signed — it’s great!” Jan was a kid at heart. She will always be that bubbly person to me. The world is a better place because of Jan Berenstain.
- Annette Bourland, Publisher, Zonderkidz
Image: Jan & Stan Berenstain, via www.harpercollins.com.